GOP delegates elect Watson as state chairman

[private]Georgia Republican activists elected John Watson as the new state chairman at the party’s annual convention in Augusta Saturday.

Watson, a prominent lobbyist and former gubernatorial aide to Sonny Perdue, was elected on the third round of balloting by a relatively narrow 741-679 vote over DeKalb County attorney Alex Johnson.

It was the third time in a row that Johnson, an ultraconservative, has run for the party’s top job and lost.

Watson, widely considered to be the candidate of the Republican Party establishment, will replace John Padgett as chairman at a time when the state party is at a particularly low ebb.

The party’s finances are shot – with debts outweighing cash on hand by nearly $100,000 – and there is still a civil lawsuit hanging around that alleges racial discrimination against a black woman who once worked for the party.

There were four candidates for the chairman’s job, so it took three rounds of voting to determine a winner.

Party activist Mike Welsh was the first man eliminated, with Michael McNeely, who hoped to be the first black elected as state chairman, gone after the second round of balloting.

Among the usual round of speeches by various elected officials and prospective candidates, the most shocking was delivered by state Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming), a Donald Trump supporter who announced this week he will run for governor.

Williams, who frequently taunts Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle on Twitter, made the sensational claim at the beginning of his speech that he had been offered the position of chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee if he would agree not to run for governor.

“We’re exposing what goes on at the state Capitol,” Williams tweeted after his speech. “Let’s be fearless conservatives!”

Other Republican officials at the convention cast doubts on the validity of Williams’ claim, however.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

 

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Tags: Georgia Republican convention , John Watson , Michael Williams